Eating a proper diet is important for people who have been diagnosed with kidney disease. At NYU Langone, registered dietitians provide customized dietary counseling. They take into consideration any other conditions, such as diabetes, you may have, as well as the level of kidney function.
Your doctor may also suggest reducing your intake of sodium, or salt, which can build up in the body when the kidneys are not working properly, causing fluid retention. This can lead to swelling in the legs and abdomen and raise blood pressure.
You may need to reduce your intake of other minerals. These include phosphorus, which helps to build strong bones. When the kidneys aren’t functioning properly, excess phosphorus can build up in the body and reduce the amount of calcium in bones, weakening them and making them prone to breaking. Your doctor may recommend limiting your consumption of foods high in phosphorus—including dairy products, processed meats, bread, beer, colas, and chocolate—to 800 to 1,000 milligrams per day.
Another mineral, potassium, helps to regulate heart rate. When the kidneys aren’t working properly, potassium can build up in the body, increasing the risk for an irregular heart rate, called an arrhythmia, or a heart attack. Your doctor may recommend that you eat less of certain fruits, such as bananas, and vegetables, including broccoli, that are rich in potassium.
People who have been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease and are not receiving dialysis treatment may be advised to eat less protein. When the kidneys aren’t functioning properly, they may not be able to filter protein, causing an unhealthy buildup in the urine called proteinuria.